UN Syria envoy makes impassioned appeal to Al-Qaida to leave Aleppo

Geneva: The UN's Syria envoy on Thursday made an impassioned appeal to save eastern Aleppo, warning the city faced total destruction and urging Islamist fighters to leave so civilians can get aid.

"In maximum two months, two and half months the city of eastern Aleppo may be totally destroyed", Staffan de Mistura told reporters in Geneva.

The rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo has been hammered by a Russian-backed government offensive, including multiple attacks on hospitals.

A street in Aleppo that was hit by shelling. AP

A street in Aleppo that was hit by shelling. AP

De Mistura noted that the presence of Al-Nusra fighters in the city has been used as a justification by Moscow and Damascus for the continued assault.

The former Al-Nusra Front has recently changed its name to Fateh al-Sham Front following a break with Al-Qaeda, but many still see the two groups as tied.

"Can you please look at my eyes", de Mistura said in a direct appeal to Nusra leaders, before pleading with them to quit Aleppo.

Urgin al-Qaida-linked fighters in the rebel-held eastern parts of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo to leave the area, he said "if you decide to leave with dignity... I am personally ready to physically accompany you".

Staffan de Mistura also asked Russian and Syrian forces if they would immediately stop their "aerial bombing" of Aleppo, provided militants from the Fatah al-Sham Front group leave the city.

He said the militant are in essence holding "hostage" roughly 275,000 people in Aleppo. The UN considers the Nusra Front a terrorist group.

De Mistura says a maximum of 900 Nusra Front fighters would "need some guarantees" that they would be allowed safe passage to Idlib province. He spoke to reporters in Geneva on Thursday.

With inputs from agencies

Published Date: Oct 06, 2016 18:39 PM | Updated Date: Oct 06, 2016 18:43 PM

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